Doctoral Apprenticeships and the “ladder of opportunity”

Rowena Senior*, Elizabeth Cleaver, Gilmar Queiros, Helen King, Kirstin Barnett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This discussion paper supports the new development of Apprenticeships at Level 8 of the UK’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (QAA, 2014). This exciting development, one that employers and universities had been waiting for paves the way for, apprenticeships, sold as the ladder of opportunity, to go all the way to the top. Design/methodology/approach: Here, we explore in brief the emergence of the new apprenticeship landscape and the importance of the addition of this new highest of levels. Findings: Importantly, however, we make the case that such progress needs to be met with an equally progressive approach to the design of the new doctoral pathway. Research limitations/implications: We sketch out a possible shell for the assessment of a Doctoral Apprenticeship, one that allows for flexible occupationally relevant inputs to create an applicable role-based and academically rigourous whole. Originality/value: The importance of such a design is discussed within the context of the potential for impact in three priority areas: social justice, broadening the talent pool and ensuring the relevance and sustainability of the doctoral award.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-685
Number of pages13
JournalHigher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning
Issue number4
Early online date26 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020


  • Apprenticeship
  • Doctoral study
  • Postgraduate research
  • Professional doctorate
  • Widening participation


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